Category: Is It Still

Running from Nightmares: The Terrifying Nature of Power in Stephen King’s IT (1990)

One of the more impactful forms of storytelling is in the tales of the hopeless. When a viewer can feel, empathizing with the protagonist(s), that there is no way to escape, to win, or to evade defeat, that is when a story becomes all the more engrossing. It’s what gives The Dark Knight, the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil, and the entirety of the FX show, Fargo, such narrative power. Everywhere the leads turn, there is somebody under the thumb of Wilson Fisk or the Joker, or else the leads are being followed by the likes of Lorne Malvo....

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Is It Still Scary: Dumbo Pink Elephants on Parade Scene

You might be wondering why Dumbo is being considered for the question, “Is It Still Scary?” If you were a sensitive child who remembers the “Pink Elephants on Parade” scene, you already know why, and you’re nodding your head emphatically in affirmation. Besides the fact that it’s bizarre and scary that we still have circus animals in 2016, that scene scarred childhoods and imprinted itself in many memories. As a child you have a pretty limited understanding of what inebriation is. You’re not quite sure if someone can get drunk from soapy water or if you should be worried...

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Is it Still Great: The Departed 10 Years Later

Time is a force like battery acid, corrosive. Frequently, films are released to raves and fawning admiration, only to soon fall into obscurity, hardly seen purposefully by anyone except maybe the Turner Classic Movies guy. Other times films will be positively received initially, and then quickly become nearly universally despised, touted as “overrated tripe” or the even more cutting, “lame.” For a cinephile, to see any film, even the most overrated and lame of them all, succumb to a fate like this is a depressing and dispiriting thing to witness. To see a truly great film, a film that...

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Is It Still Scary: Return to Oz

From 1995 to 1996, my sister subjected my family to a daily viewing of The Wizard of Oz. Daily. As in she convinced each of my recently divorced parents that she’d be less traumatized by our broken family if she got to eat Ramen Noodles for dinner every night, sitting in front of the TV, watching her rapidly deteriorating VHS copy of the beloved 1939 classic. Maybe in hopes of expanding our movie collection or perhaps in a desperate fit of, “I can’t fucking watch The Wizard of Oz one more time,” my dad introduced us to Return to...

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Is It Still Good?: The Fifth Element

Past: I was 13 when I went to the movies to see The Fifth Element. I saw it in a cinema called The Odeon in Bromborough with a friend and a girl I had a crush on. It was on some sort of special day where tickets were, say, ten pound each and my parents had driven to the cinema in the morning and queued up for an hour to get us all cheap tickets for my first ever cinema double bill: The Fifth Element and One Fine Day (starring George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer). I remember pretty much...

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Is it Still One of the Worst?: Elektra

Prior the release of Daredevil season one last year, I revisited the 2003 Daredevil film to see if it still deserved to be regarded as one of the most disappointing film adaptations of a comic book character. And it still does. Now, prior to the release of Daredevil season two and the introduction of Elektra and the Hand to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve watched the spin-off film Elektra to see if it too deserved to be viewed as one of the worst comic book movies ever made. Elektra starts off with the makings of a decent movie and...

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Is It Still Funny?: Zoolander

The answer is yes. Yes, I can still repeat most of the lines in Zoolander while I watch it. Determining this was not my goal in watching it again last weekend, but it’s nice to know that some skills just don’t fade with time. My goal, originally, was to determine whether Zoolander was still funny, 14 years later. I realized, as I laughed at Derek’s tiny phone and the 2001: A Space Odyssey scene in Maury Ballstein’s office, that, for me, Zoolander will always be funny, whether it’s objectively funny or not. It recalls to me my 15 year-old...

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Is It Still Charming?: Babe

In 1995, children and adults alike fell in love with the story of Babe, a polite shepherding pig. In a rapidly changing and chaotic world, Babe provided a heart-warming story that included familiar tropes: the runt that proves himself with the help of a mother figure and the interloper that gradually wins over a disapproving alpha male, to name a couple. Yet Babe was a good story in its own right, differentiating itself through the incorporation of modern anxieties and humor, and the skillful integration of animatronics and CGI. Today, with the inundation of the internet, stories of domestic and foreign...

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Is It Still Better Than The Goonies?: The Monster Squad

Nostalgia is overrunning us at the moment. So many sequels, remakes, and spin-offs  are coming into existence to cash in on the nostalgia of people who were children in the 80s and 90s. It can be a dangerous thing to put rose tinted glasses over our eyes and make us think crazy things like that The Goonies isn’t shitty, or that the world needs a sequel to Beetlejuice. The danger of watching a movie from your youth is that you open yourself up for disappointment, and once the dominos begin to fall they never stop. And if one movie from...

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Is It Still Scary: The Birds

It’s important when watching films, and old films in particular, to put them in the context of their time, and to try and understand why certain things appear in certain ways and appreciate other aspects despite their obvious dated nature. In order to be able to encapsulate the artistry and talent on display in a movie, one must look past the indelible watermark of age set on the motion picture. Take a film like the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, for instance. At certain moments, Stanley Kubrick’s vision of the future seems obsolete and very much a product of...

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David Wain, Dada & Wet Hot American Summer

David Wain and Michael Showalter’s Wet Hot American Summer has inexplicably become the cult-classic comedy hit of 2001. Initially a critical and commercial failure, Wain’s directorial debut is still an amazing spectacle almost fifteen years later. The comic punches and sophomoric gags are still uproariously entertaining in an entirely warmhearted and tender manner, and the jokes that arise among and between the film’s summer camp caricatures are immediately recognizable to anyone who has ever been forced, willingly or not, to spend time in the great outdoors with other people of your own biological age during the dog days of...

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Is It Still Funny: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

In 1997, Mike Myers wrote and starred in a comedy that spoofed the spy genre, and James Bond in particular. Myers, coming off of his well-received Wayne’s World movies (which he also wrote and starred in) became a box office sensation domestically, and launched Myers to movie stardom. It arrived at just the right time, filling a gap in the market we may not have even realized was there. Whether we knew it or not, we all wanted silly comedy, and the now thirty-year-old series it was spoofing was due for a parody. With the much-celebrated Goldeneye being the most...

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Is It Still Good?: Dirty Harry

Clint Eastwood turns 85 this month. In recent years he’s become an increasingly odd character. With his talking to chairs, questionable directorial choices, and general “grumpy old man” demeanor, it’s easy to forget that Eastwood used to be a universal symbol of masculinity and general badassery. There was a time when his squinty-eyed stubbornness was seen as a trait of his stoic heroism, and less of his confusion brought on by his failing memory in old age. Taking a look back at Don Siegel’s 1971 cop thriller, Dirty Harry, it’s easy to see why Eastwood was once such a notable icon of manliness. From the first opening shots of Dirty Harry, filmed in Panavision, it is made explicitly clear that the film is a product of its time. The score of the film, the look of it, and even the camera movements, somehow, scream of the early 1970s. The film looks so dated at parts that the whole thing begins to come across as if it is a low-budget exploitation flick. Even the basic themes put forth in Dirty Harry are birthed out of the times. The film came along at the tail end of the freewheeling 1960s and at the very beginning of a much more rigid and much more paranoid 1970s. America was still covered in the blood of Vietnam. Kent State was behind us and Watergate...

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Is It Still Fun?: Gremlins

Just this past August, I participated in Forgotten Films’ 1984-themed blog-a-thon, and I couldn’t resist picking Gremlins as a forgotten favorite of mine to write about. It’s a weird, quirky gem of a film that shouldn’t be as deviously fun as it is. For letting its freak flag fly, it goes down in pop culture history as a weird genre mash-up of creature-horror and crazy-comedy and defies easily definable demographics. In fact, it helped give rise to the PG-13 rating. But is it still as fun as it used to be? Before I answer that, I have to bring up one...

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